“I’d say that anyone who questions whether they might drink too much or wants to stop, should consider OYNB. It has literally changed my life.”

I actually started drinking later than most, it wasn’t until after college. It started with a few beers or wine on weekends, then I tried cocktails. Although I was always active (runner, Nordic skier, triathlete), as time went on, I began to lean on drinks more and more as a way to relax in the evening and distress at the end of a long day. Special occasions or certain events started becoming associated with drinking. Martinis that went so well with fresh bruschetta, the wine with a homemade pasta party, steak and bourbon dinners…made for good cover until I dropped the events and just made the drinks a daily way to escape. 

I was never one to go to bars

I found close family friends who were good at making cocktails and enjoyed them as much as I did. It didn’t seem weird to drink so much if my buddy did it with me, and our families were all hanging together. But it started to become not just a daily habit, but what I looked forward throughout the day. I’d sit at work and notice that I was thinking about that drink before dinner. And then I’d top it off after dinner. And into the evening when watching TV with my young son. I put on weight, overslept, skipped workouts. There were so many mornings where I’d walk down the steps to my car thinking, “I’ve got to cut back, tonight I’m not going to drink, and tomorrow I start running!” By the time I’d get home, I’d be reaching for the liquor cabinet again. And one was just never enough. I didn’t seem to have an off switch. I was always envious of people who could order a glass of wine with dinner and leave half of it when they got up to leave. 

Taking a break from booze

In January 2018, I decided to take a month-long break from alcohol. After a month, it felt so good, I thought I’d continue until our vacation in April. So, I strung together a 4-month AF stint on my own and convinced myself that I’d never go back to drinking like I had. It felt so good, and I liked the results so much, that I said I’d moderately drink. Within a few weeks of starting again, I was back to the amounts I had been before, and then some. Now I was starting to toss back a gin or vodka as I made dinner, quickly before taking my son to violin lesson or going for a walk. One night I fell down hard while out for a walk in the dark, tripped over some uneven sidewalk and bloodied my knee terribly. Still I continued, hating myself for not stopping, but feeling like I could at any time.

In July 2019, I knew I had to make a drastic change, and needed help doing it. After seeing the FB ads for OYNB for several weeks, I decided to sign up for the 90-day challenge. By Day 50, I knew I was going to extend to 365, and based on my previous experiments with moderation, for good.

The biggest surprise

I experienced a flood of feelings that came when I stopped suppressing or numbing them with alcohol. Although I knew I was stressed, I didn’t consciously choose to hide these feelings, so the waves of sadness, anger, and frustration were pretty overwhelming at first. I had to find positive ways to work through them. Meditation, long walks, journaling, and working out helped a lot. And also, just sitting with those feelings and realising they were ok. It is still something I am really working on, and continues to be difficult, but I now feel more equipped to really honestly look at what is going on in me and feel less anxious about it.

mike after quitting drinkingThe best part of being alcohol-free is finding my way back to me again. For the first time in many years, I really like who I am. I’m exercising again, eating better, and have lost close to 30 pounds and 4 inches off my waist! My relationship with my son is much better because I am not as reactive to his teenage outbursts, and my improved patience has allowed me to really listen to him. All of this is because of the vastly expanded clarity of thinking I now have. I wake up clear headed every morning, no hangover! 

I could not have made it this far without OYNB

The FB forum has been inspiring and supportive, as I see people both succeed and stumble, and then support each other either way. Also, it has inspired me to think about goals and positive things to do with my time rather than just focus on missing out on the drink. I’d say that anyone who questions whether they might drink too much, or wants to cut back sometimes, or wants to stop, or any of those questions, should consider OYNB. It has literally changed my life.

 

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